Afterschool services have been shut down across the state and working families are being denied childcare. Youth development and public safety are being harmed as a result.
Chicago, IL –-(ENEWSPF)–September 3, 2015. Sheriff Tom Dart, flanked by providers and youth, hosted a press conference this morning at the Cook County Jail where he called on leaders in Springfield to end cuts to afterschool opportunities and childcare assistance. The state has completely eliminated funding for the Teen Reach afterschool grant, childcare center providers are not being paid, and 90% of working families that apply are being denied access to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Press conference participants said the consequences of those cuts will become increasingly apparent as Chicago Public School kids head back to school on Tuesday.
“Public safety demands that parents and youth have the basic tools they need to be successful, productive, and responsible. State leaders can either choose kids and fund services for families and communities, or they can ask our first responders and criminal justice system to clean up their mess at far greater cost – both in tax dollars and lives,” said Sheriff Dart.
Providers who are being forced to deny support and care for youth urged their elected officials to choose revenue instead of cuts to kids.
Noel Chambers, Associate Director of Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, spoke at the press conference. He stated that approximately 7,000 youth previously served by Boys and Girls Clubs across the state have seen the end of Teen REACH services, due to the lack of a state budget, which funds Teen REACH through the Department of Human Services. Chambers described how the Boys & Girls Teen REACH program was valuable because it teaches teens to resist violence, gangs, and drugs, while helping them stay on track and make positive choices.
“Teen REACH is an accountable, proven program,” said Chambers, “and we want our leaders in Springfield to know that leaving kids without safe and productive options afterschool, during what law enforcement dubs ‘the prime time for juvenile crime’ is a poor choice. The right choice for our youth and communities is to fund a budget with adequate revenue that prioritizes the needs of kids and families.”
Studies have found that participants in afterschool programs may be 30% less likely to participate in criminal activities than peers who do not attend programs.
The YMCA of Metro Chicago has also been forced to cut and scale back its Teen REACH services at multiple sites, including the Rauner Family YMCA, just down the street from the Cook County Jail.
DaWana Williamson, their Senior Vice President of Youth Development, said in addition to Teen REACH keeping youth off the streets and out of harms way, youth are losing out on proven academic support. She noted that statewide data shows 98% of Teen REACH students were promoted to the next grade or graduated compared to the 86% statewide average, 93% improved their grades, and 82% improved their homework completion. Many youth participating in the YMCA’s Teen REACH program attribute it to literally saving their lives.
“I have experienced first-hand how critical the State’s Teen REACH funding is to thousands of youth and families across Illinois. I urge our legislators to choose responsible revenue so we can support this critical, lifesaving program,” said Williamson.
Albert Richardson, Director of Youth Services at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services, said childcare cuts instituted by Governor Rauner on July 1st will steer kids away from success and is already forcing parents to work less or quit their jobs altogether. “These are young children we’re talking about – kids 12 and younger – that are being robbed of the safety and support they deserve,” said Richardson. The cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program deny eligibility to 90% of working families that apply. Marillac St. Vincent has been forced to deny 80 parents since the cuts took effect July 1.
One of those parents is Sharron Newsom. She was unable to enroll her third grade son, Monchello, at Marillac St. Vincent under CCAP despite earning income far below the poverty level. Not having affordable childcare limits the hours Sharron can work and she worries that she may lose her job due to her availability.
“I’m asking those in power to end these childcare cuts. My child needs opportunities to learn and grow outside of home and school,” said Sharron. “I need to continue working to provide for him.”
The Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) is a large and diverse coalition of approximately 200 organizations concerned about state budget and tax issues. It includes organizations that serve children, families, veterans, seniors and people with disabilities; education groups concerned about early learning, K-12 and higher education; labor unions; faith-based and civic organizations; and many others.
The individual organizations that belong to the RBC represent a diverse range of interests but are united by these three common principles:
Adequate revenue to support state priorities and make smart investments
No more cuts to vital programs and services
Fairness in raising revenue
- Source: Responsible Budget Coalition